Slaven Bilic rues missing players in West Ham's defeat to Man City
By Alice Piper
Last Updated: 28/08/16 8:51pm
Slaven Bilic admitted West Ham are suffering from the absence of key players, after losing 3-1 to Manchester City on Sunday.
The injury-hit Hammers conceded early when Raheem Sterling opened the scoring in the seventh minute, before Fernandinho added a second in what was a lacklustre first-half performance from the visitors.
Bilic's side pulled one back close to the hour-mark when Michail Antonio slotted home from close-range, before City put the game to bed with Sterling's second of the day to round off an impressive display from the hosts.
Speaking after the game, Bilic claimed fans will see a transformed team when their missing players return from injury.
He said: "We didn't start well. Straight from the beginning they had a couple of corners in the first two minutes and then from that they scored the first one, then added a second from the free-kick.
"The second half we played well. They created chances of course because we opened up, but the team showed character, spirit and quality up front. That gives us hope with the players we are missing - we are missing an awful lot of them until they come back.
"Manchester City are different class, especially when we play without six, seven or even eight players.
"With the players that we are expecting back, of course it's going to be different for West Ham."
The former Croatia boss believes the hosts deserved to be leading by two goals at the break, but was impressed with his side's second-half performance.
He added: "In the second half we played much better. We were very close to them, we were closing them down, we were winning balls and after we scored it gave us hope and we had our moments and semi-chances.
"To be fair at half time I was angry about our mentality and character shown. If you don't have that quality to keep the ball, to have the ball, to hurt them, then if they are attacking all the time it is a problem."
Bilic insisted Winston Reid's substitution didn't have an impact on his game plan, after the defender had to be treated when he appeared to be elbowed by Sergio Aguero - the Argentina international could face an FA charge over the incident.
He said: "I didn't see that incident in that way. Just because Winston got a little bit injured we took him off. It was like our plans."